RFSD column: A grateful school district gets a chance to recharge
The Thanksgiving holiday is this week, and we at the Roaring Fork Schools are filled with an abundance of thankfulness. This fall has presented many challenges and inconveniences, but throughout the past few months, our staff, students, families and community members have proven resilient, selfless and strong. For all of them, and all of you, we are incredibly thankful.
We are thankful for the teachers and other staff members throughout the Roaring Fork Schools who have done an incredible job staying positive this fall despite the widespread inconveniences of construction – both on the bridge and our school facilities – and our unusually busy calendar.
Last year, we determined that we needed to delay the start of the school year to accommodate the construction, and the strong consensus of teachers and parents was that we did not want to end school much later in June. Consequently, we had to squeeze more school days into a shorter period of time. Our staff just finished an unusually long stretch without three-day weekends, fall breaks, or other chances to take a breather, and they deserve an appreciation for their perseverance and dedication.
We are thankful for the many city and state agencies, district staff members, volunteers, students, families, businesses and organizations who supported the Grand Avenue bridge detour and helped keep our students safe during the closure.
Many groups, such as Umbrella Roofing and Kiwanis, donated bikes, bike racks, helmets and safety equipment for our students. Our transportation team put together an innovative plan to minimize school transportation through the detour. One part of the solution was the district’s walking school bus, which had bus riders walk around critical detour junctions via the Rio Grande Trail.
Jordan Schoeller served as the district’s trail coordinator, recruiting and coordinating volunteers for the walking school bus. Jordan brought a level of enthusiasm and creativity to this role that was infectious. Jordan and her team of volunteers did a truly outstanding job transforming an inconvenience into an experience for our students. Similarly, Police Chief Terry Wilson donned the most outrageous costume and a positive attitude that set the tone for all of us.
We are thankful to taxpayers, architects, engineers and contractors for providing us with a complete makeover in most of our schools. Because of their support, every school in the district saw some improvements. Schools were updated and renovated to be safe, welcoming, flexible and sustainable spaces that promote creative, active and collaborative learning.
We appreciate everyone’s high-quality work to realize these new and improved school spaces. In addition to school renovation, many teachers and staff members have already moved into new staff housing. More units will come online over the next school year, which will allow us to retain and recruit great teachers and leaders for your schools.
We are thankful to our school community and partners for their support in the wake of a Basalt High School student’s tragic death. There are no words to lessen the pain of such a loss, especially for those who knew this student well. However, the actions of many provided invaluable support for those suffering. All of the staff members throughout the Basalt schools carried the double burden of putting in additional hours and energies caring for their students while also struggling with their personal loss.
Basalt High School Principal Peter Mueller and Assistant Principal Megan Baiardo showed amazing leadership and grace in managing the crisis. Counselors from across the district dropped what they were doing over the weekend and continued to help out as needed throughout the week. The Aspen Hope Center, Mindsprings, Pathfinder, Christ Community Church, and other groups showed up and stepped in, providing invaluable expertise and support to our students, staff, and families. Many school district staff members cleared their calendars to help where needed. Everyone’s immediate and unrequested support helped lighten the load in a terrible situation. Once again, our school community showed strength and generosity at a most critical time.
We are thankful that Thanksgiving has finally arrived. We are especially thankful this year for an opportunity to relax and recharge. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!
Rob Stein is superintendent of Roaring Fork Schools.